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Question DetailsAsked on 11/13/2013

How do I obtain a power of attorney for my mother?

My mother is on a fixed income and cannot afford an attorney but would like me to care for her in her health and assets. My mother is 82 years old.

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1 Answer


Doing it without an attorney runs the risk that when you need it, it will not be legally usable. There will be issues and questions you will need an attorney for in the future, as well as for the Estate, so it is a good idea to have an established relationship with an Estate and Probate attorney from the get-go. If on fixed income,check with local seniro care agency about possible free or discount legal assistance with this.

However, if it is from the web or nothing, then I guess standard forms from Nolo or similar sites is better than nothing. Nolo is pretty reputable - more so than the off the shelf forms you will find in copy centers and mail boxes type places.

You will need a Health Care POA (or similar name) to be able to discuss her medical treatment with health care providers and to make health decisions for her if necessary, a Financial POA to handle her financial affairs, A Living Will or Health Care Directive to indicate levels of life support wanted or not wanted in a medical emergency, and she should also have a Will stating disposition of possessions and assets after death and who is to be the Executor. Google those terms for explanations - some reliable sites for info would be NOLO Press, CCH (a tax guide and code book publisher in Chicago with good in on website free), and AARP website. CCH has some excellent booklets on elder care legal issues and POA's and Estate planning - including a series of only 30-50 pagers that are excellent introductory explanations and well worth the money. There are also books on the subject like ones in the "for Dummies" series, and ones published by AARP and such.

You want to get these done while she is in good health, as she not only has to go through them and assist in setting and agreeing to the terms, but the attorney has to interview her as to state of mind and soundness of mind so he can definitively state (usually in an affidavit or statement in the document) that he believed her of sound mind and fully capable of making personal and financial decisions at the time they were signed.

Most attorneys can do a simple set of these (using templates they have already that your mother marks up with desired changes or additions) for about $350-500, though in the thousands if complex or involves setting up a Living Trust or such.

Here is a good article on the subject - more can be found at same website -

When you are going to start taking over her financial affairs, copies of the Financial POA will have to be provided to each firm she has an account with - an commonly they will not acceptone that is over a certain period old - usually 3 years but sometimes as little as one, so prepare additional unsigned copies to be witnessed and signed inthe future. If you arer handling taxes, you have to file the appropriate forms with copy of the POA for that as well.

When dealing on her behalf, ALWAYS sign your name (or give your name) with your title after it - like John Smith, POA or John Smith, Personal Representative, otherwise you are accepting personal responsibility for her financial liabilities. This is particularly crucial with health providers, because while at her age she is undoubtedly covered by Medicare or Medicaid, if you sign documents with her name then you are accepting personal responsibility for payment, and many will bill you full price directly and bypass medicare, thereby increasing their revenue on the case three-fold or more - sometimes up to ten- fold.

Don't forget to get up to speed on any retirement plans, social security or Veteran's Administration coverage and benefits, etc also.

Here is a good beginningon dfederal tax issues and assistance for elders, and Publication 554 deals specifically with Elder issues in taxation by the IRS - don't forget state and local taxation too -

Unfortunately, Angie's List does not rate attorneys, so you will have to ask around for references in town from friends or coworkers as to who they used and liked.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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